More than 10,000 people from Syria have sought refuge in neighbouring Iraq in the 10 days since fighting began in north-eastern Syria near the border with Turkey, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.
The situation in north-eastern Syria remains tense and unpredictable, with ongoing violence has leading to “some 180,000 people having been displaced across the country’s north-east,” according to the latest UN estimates.
Most of the Syrian refugees come from cities and villages from northeast Syria and have witnessed explosions and shelling. “Three out of four are women and children and there are unaccompanied children among these arrivals,” Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the UNHCR told journalists today in Geneva.
In a further update Mahecic added that that only had the latest refugee influx to Iraq passed the 10,000 mark, but that they had just received another “1,114 people this morning, bringing the total to more than 11,000 refugees.” Most of the people fleeing Syria into Iraq are sheltered at the Bardarash refugee camp, some 140 kilometers east of the Iraqi-Syrian border, he said.
UNHCR and partners, together with local authorities, are providing a range of services that start from the border. These include reception, provision of hot meals, transportation to the camp, registration, shelter and protection services, and even providing psycho-social support.
As humanitarian needs mount along with the burgeoning numbers of refugees, Mahecic stressed “the importance of freedom of movement for fleeing civilians and that the borders remain open, so that refugees can seek safety and protection”.